Queen would be asked to help pay off Prince Andrew’s accuser

London: The Queen would be asked to help fund any potential settlement the Duke of York pays his accuser, The Daily Telegraph understands.

The option to pay off Virginia Roberts Giuffre – who has accused him of sexually abusing her when she was 17 – has not been ruled out by Prince Andrew’s legal team as it faces the prospect of an exposing and potentially damaging trial.

Prince Andrew has always denied the allegations that he abused Virginia Giuffre. Credit:AP

The Queen has been paying the Duke’s legal fees since he first appointed a solicitor last February, shortly after the BBC interview in which he failed to show any regret over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

The funds come from the annual income of her private Duchy of Lancaster estate, which recently increased by £1.5 million ($2.8 million) to more than £23 million.

For his part, Prince Andrew, 61, is selling the Verbier ski chalet he bought with his ex-wife, the Duchess of York, in 2014 as a “family investment” with a mortgage and private funds from the Queen.

The couple put the property on the market when they were sued in September 2020 by the previous owner, French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, who alleged that they owed her £6.7 million from the £16.6 million sale.

The Queen on one of her final public appearances last year.Credit:AP

de Rouvre, 75, has now dropped her lawsuit and is thought to have been paid the outstanding debt, although it is unclear how Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson came by the funds. It means that when the sale goes through and other debts are paid, they will have a small profit to put towards a potential settlement which would be billed as a means of protecting the Royal family from further reputational damage.

Sarah, 62, on Friday returned home from a skiing holiday at the seven-bedroom chalet with her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, their respective husbands and babies. Approached by a journalist at Geneva airport, she declined to discuss the Duke’s legal case but said: “Onwards and upwards”.

Prince Andrew has so far indicated that he wants to fight the allegations and clear his name. But if he does opt to offer Giuffre a payoff, which is likely to exceed £5 million, the Queen would be asked to contribute, alongside his own input, The Telegraph understands.

Prince Andrew denies having had sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was 17. Giuffre says she was forced by Jeffrey Epstein to sleep with the duke.Credit:AP, BBC

However, any potential deal would include a “no admission of fault or liability” clause as well as a non-disclosure agreement, preventing either party from discussing the settlement or the case in public, sources suggest.

The settlement issue has gathered traction in recent days as Prince Andrew awaits a critical ruling from Judge Lewis Kaplan on his motion to have the civil case dismissed.

Andrew Brettler, his Los Angeles-based lawyer, argued that Giuffre had “waived her rights” to sue him when she entered into a $US500,000 release agreement with Epstein in 2009.

But Judge Kaplan rejected most of Brettler’s points and legal experts said it appeared “unlikely” that he would find in Prince Andrew’s favour.

The next stage would be an “intrusive” discovery and deposition process, in which Prince Andrew is interviewed under oath by Giuffre’s lawyers.

He will also be asked to hand over correspondence, phone logs, emails and diaries and those closest to him could be asked to testify.

While a settlement would stop the case progressing further, it would have to involve Giuffre’s co-operation. But both she and her legal team are understood to be determined to push towards a trial in the interests of seeking justice.

Giuffre has made clear that she wants to send a message that anyone accused of preying on young girls will face the full force of the law.

Taking money from Prince Andrew, who she claims sexually abused her on three separate occasions, would not “advance that message” and could also trigger a public backlash.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the Queen’s involvement.

Telegraph, London

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